Making Pierogi in the Safe Space

If you are interested in finding out more about the project or think you would like to recreate it in your community, please get in touch: magda@magdaolchawska.com

Artist Statement

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, spaces and places have become very polarised, making people nervous, anxious and uncertain about connecting with others or finding a safe reflective space. The core of the project is an open public invitation to join in the collective cooking session. In this participatory project, I would like to offer others a safe space where a simple act of making pierogi with others could help the participants reflect and connect to their own feelings and experiences through sharing and listening to stories. In the Polish tradition, the kitchen table has always been at the heart of the household. Offering space for the family and friends to eat, cook together, talk, listen and share stories. The kitchen table in my granny’s house was magical and, to me, provided a safe space from the gloomy reality of communist Poland. Personally, I’ll always associate cooking with my grandmother, who tried to pass her cooking knowledge to me by actively engaging me in cooking, preserving, and baking.

Even though pierogi are a simple dish with few ingredients, it is laborious and requires a lot of strength to knead the dough. Similarly, at this point in our society, there is a real need to strengthen the human ability to connect to others. One of the ways to reinforce human connections can be through the collective act of cooking together and sharing stories. Just the way many tribal cultures used to do around the campfire.

In my artistic practice, I am keen on exploring various ways of telling, experiencing and engaging with stories. In the Making Pierogi in the Safe Space project, I share my early childhood cooking story to invite the public to connect to their own stories through cooking with strangers.